Sonia Hadj Said
Crossing the line: An American artist in London – opinion on US election results and the importance of political art.
Where political campaigns sometimes fail to provide the public with the full picture, artists step in, carrying strong messages through their pieces that can resonate with large audiences.
“Crossed the Line” a political protest installation by artist Christine E Walters showcased at the Gabriel Fine Arts Gallery in South Quay is a loud voice of personal opinion and public interest in the light of the US elections.
Walters is a Performance Artist who originally paints the abstract to Live DJ music. Born in Indiana, schooled in Alabama and cultured in New York City she has moved to London just a year ago, bringing her unapologetic views on the migrant crisis, racism, climate change, the war in Syria along with her.
All her works have a common pattern of strong language and splattered colours. Being experimental pieces, they are full or rage and unplanned paint strokes, metaphors for all that is messy in the world.
And among this mess, the main focus of the pieces is on the US elections and America’s brand new President, Donald Trump.
A large portrait of Trump captioned “State Racist” glares back at the visitors of the gallery. The title of the piece is The Candidate, however this morning it should read The President.
“This is an intentionally bad painting for a bad guy. I am American and think Trump is a cunt, I am mortified at the result.”, Walters despairs in the wake of the US election outcome.
As an American living in London, Walters has also drawn a parallel with Brexit. A large British flag made up of Brexit newspaper cuttings stands next to Trump’s portrait. “Although the political system in the US and in the UK is different, people in both countries seem to not have thought through all the negative consequences that these decisions will bring”, Walters suggests.
asked whether the election result makes her feel like her art is in vain she asserts: “The world is always listening to art. One day in the future, maybe someone will come across these pieces and will find something inspiring. Just as Charlie Chaplin’s speech in The Great Dictator- it may be old, but it is still relevant. As artists we need to keep creating, keep putting what we believe in out there for the public to see. Art can inspire a beautiful change, or in this case merely document an important moment in the world’s history”.
Explaining why she decided to showcase Walters’ installation, Beata Maria Rzepecka – Gabriel Art Gallery Director – explains: “Art is supposed to be communicating things. This installation depicts the artist’s strong political views, it sends a strong message.”